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“Never too early to start:’ CMS student already living his dream as a mechanic

Omar Cruz is a graduating senior at Phillip O’Berry Academy of Technology
Chasing your dreams doesn’t have to wait until after graduation, just ask Omar Cruz.
Published: May. 17, 2022 at 6:18 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Chasing your dreams doesn’t have to wait until after graduation, just ask Omar Cruz.

Omar Cruz jumpstarts his mornings bright and early from 7 am to 10:30 am as a student at Phillip O’Berry Academy of Technology. Most afternoons you can find him working under the hood of a car at Mecklenburg Automotive and Collison Center.

He’s just 17 years old and already on the path to his career as an ACE-certified technician.

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“It’s never too early to start,” Cruz said.

In just 25 days, he’ll be crossing the stage with his diploma, one step closer to his career.

His love for cars and mechanics started around the time he was 12 or 13, Cruz was diligent and attentive watching his father work on cars at their home.

“When I was a kid my dad would just do regular basic maintenance at my house, I would help him every now and again,” he said.

Cruz also takes classes at Central Piedmont Community College where he’s obtained two certifications and a license already.

Through CMS’ apprenticeship program, he earned a partial scholarship to Central Piedmont and his entire first semester is paid off. Over the last five months, he’s gained valuable hands-on experience at Mecklenburg Automotive Fleet, which further fueled his passion.

“I want to continue with the mechanic route and be known as what is an ACE certified technician which is a top of the chain in the mechanic field and hopefully one day own my own business,” he said.

Cruz says he’s most inspired by his parents, who immigrated from Oaxaca, Mexico.

“They sacrificed everything they had to give me and my siblings a better life...I want to show them it’s not an opportunity wasted.”

Cruz also works part-time at O’Reilly Auto Parts, that’s where he got his first introduction to the automotive industry.

“Time management is big for me,” he said.

No matter the task, Cruz is dedicated and is encouraging other students to pursue trade careers.

“Mechanics are a trade, any trade could work, there’s always going to be a job for you,” he said.

While he may be young, he says he’s not letting his age stop him from achieving his true potential.

“Doing this already at the age of 17 actually surprises me, knowing that anybody is capable of doing what they want you just got to work hard for it.”

Cruz graduates in mid-June and will start at Central Piedmont this fall, he says he will be the first person in his immediate family to start and finish college.

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